'The Swifts' is a cracking, inventive crime-thriller mystery with laughs, mischief and mayhem from debut author Beth Lincoln! Imagine 'Knives Out' for children with a Gothic edge. It's a unique story that also explores how people come to be defined - literally with the family of the Swifts - and how definitions and meanings are not always as they seem.
On the day they are born, each Swift is brought before the sacred Family Dictionary. They are given a name and a definition, and it is assumed they will grow up to match. Unfortunately, Shenanigan Swift has other ideas. So when one of the Family tries to murder Arch-Aunt Schadenfreude, someone has to work out whodunit. With the help of her sisters and cousin, Shenanigan grudgingly takes on the case, but more murders, a hidden treasure and an awful lot of suspects make thing seriously complicated...
I really enjoyed the thrills, twists and trouble-making of 'The Swifts'. There's a macabre quirkiness to the plot, perfect for fans of Lemony Snickett, with a myriad of surprises that keep you on your toes. Shenanigan is such a brilliant, original character creation: she's troublesome, caring, inventive and much more than her name suggests. She is one of many distinctive characters. As all great murder-mysteries should have 'The Swifts' has a strange, sometimes unsettling, hodgepodge cast who are potential murderers, prima donnas, life-savers and schemers. Imagine 'Knives Out' meets Agatha Christie and Roald Dahl and you get the idea! I loved Arch-Aunt Schadenfreude's spiky, cruel but kind nature, and her character arc is quite extraordinary! Shenanigan's sisters are also a lot of fun, in particular Phenomena, a scientist Holmes-like character, who deserves her own break-out mystery.
'The Swifts' is certainly a unique title for middle grade fiction for 2023, not only only in its beautiful hardback edition, but also because of it's spot-on perfect illustrations by Claire Powell, which absolutely reflect the tone of Beth Lincoln's distinctive voice and world-building. A classic-in-the-making pairing of author and illustrator. I look forward to more from them!
Thank you to Puffin books for my copy to review.